I finally have my own paperback copy of the book, thanks to John McCrarey of Long Time Gone. I met up with John and Kevin Kim of BigHominid’s Hairy Chasms yesterday at Shenanigans* in Itaewon. John asked me to sign his copy and I gladly obliged. It was my third book signed for the week. The first was for a co-worker at the university and the second was for a friend of one of my current students. My student ordered the paperback from Amazon and was going to hand deliver it to his friend, who is Korean but lived in the States since he was young and is now doing his military service in the police force in Ilsan.
I’ve often daydreamed about doing a book reading** and book signing, but after signing only three books this past week, I’ve realized that it would be torture. It’s like signing a yearbook, and I don’t want to be the asshole who writes “Have a good/great/nice summer” in everybody’s yearbook. Yearbook day was one of my least favorite days of the school year, and I had an overall miserable time throughout middle and high school. It’s hard enough thinking of something to write in the yearbook of someone you know; what do you write for an entire group of people you’ve never met before and know nothing about? I shudder at the thought (but would elatedly consent to such fresh torture if ever offered the chance because, well, promotion, and perhaps I’m a self-denying masochist after all).
After several beers at Shenanigans, John took us on base to hit up the Mexican buffet Oasis at the Dragon Lodge. The last time I was on base was after I had been caught at Osan trying to leave the country. I had to return to Yongsan to turn in my military ID card, ending my 24-hour stint as a Specialist in the US Army. I was in Korean boot camp two days later.
I got my copies of the book, filled my belly to capacity with Mexican food, and got some good ideas about how to proceed with the book. It was a productive day.
* I first went to Shenanigans two years ago with my friend Chris, who suggested the place because it was run by his friend and the food was good. When I walked in the bar, I was flooded with memories. The bar used to be called BlessU, and in the months after I got my draft papers in 2003, I spent many nights there trying to drown my sorrows and instead spent many day-afters throwing up everything but. My friend Simon worked the bar, and he would pour me special rum and Cokes with about 70 percent Bacardi 151 and 30 percent Coke. I also had a lot of female friends back then, and they would buy me Blow Jobs, which is Baileys and Kahlua and Amaretto topped with whipped cream.
** I actually did a book reading several years ago, at a time when I was still writing the first draft. It was for some hippy anti-war event; I went up after some people playing the bongos. I wasn’t ready. I was editing the excerpt for the reading right up until I went on stage. It went horribly. Not a single person approached me afterward. I sulked off with my graduate school buddies, who all graciously refrained from commenting on my performance, and probably got plastered somewhere in Hongdae.